Monday June 17, 2013
If you're a hard-core Cajun and zydeco music fan, then you already know that to really immerse yourself into those genres, your best vacation option is not New Orleans, but the Cajun bayous and prairies South and West of the city, which are within day-trip distance from New Orleans but merit their own overnight, at the very least. Lafayette is the hub of the scene, and a hotel there is a good choice for a visiting dance fanatic.
That's not to say, though, that New Orleans doesn't have lots to offer in the way of Cajun and zydeco music. It does! C/Z artists are on the roster for every big festival in town, and there are live accordion-driven bands in clubs around the city every night of the week.
The trouble is, there's also a lot of goofy faux-Cajun music being pumped out of French Quarter tourist traps, and it can be hard to sift through that to find the really good stuff. There are some clubs, though, that specialize in real Cajun or zydeco, or who have a dedicated night each week that features the music. If the music interests you, it's worth seeking them out.
Sunday June 9, 2013
It's summer. It's hot. The obvious solution to beating the heat is to spend your day darting from air-conditioned space to air-conditioned space. I won't deny you that luxury, but I would suggest that you find an afternoon to spend picnicking in one of New Orleans' gorgeous parks.
City Park and Audubon Park are the obvious choices. There are plenty of well-shaded benches which are... well, not cool, but cooler, at least.
To get a bit cooler still, you'll want to get closer to a bigger body of water. I'm partial to The Fly, a little strip of Audubon Park that's on the Mississippi river side of the levee. It's popular among locals as a place to play catch with your kids and walk your dogs, and it offers a fun view of ships and barges passing up the river while cool(ish) breezes blow. Woldenberg Park, on the river's edge at the French Quarter, is not as shady, but has a few nice benches, as well.
So how about picnic fare? The standard choice is to pick up a couple of po-boys or muffulettas or other sandwichy delights. Other ideas: a morning picnic with a big sack of beignets and a coffee from Café du Monde; an Atkins-friendly cheese, charcuterie, and pickle spread from the St. James Cheese Company; or a few pounds of spicy crawfish from KJean or Zimmer's.
What's your favorite New Orleans picnic spot? And what's your favorite picnic fare?
Audubon Park Image © Megan Romer, 2013 / Licensed to About.com
Wednesday May 29, 2013
A couple of months back, Tujague's, the legendary New Orleans old-line restaurant (the second oldest eatery in the city) sounded the alarm. Contract disputes and a bit of a family feud were putting the restaurant in jeopardy. Rumors swirled.
The prevailing rumor suggested that it was going to be replaced with -- horror of horrors -- a tacky touristic t-shirt shop, as though the French Quarter didn't have enough of those. Word got out that celebrity chef John Besh had reached out to help save the place, and foodies went all a-twitter at the idea. And so on, and so forth.
Well, good news for lovers of New Orleans food and history: Tujague's is staying open, and even has some exciting new plans. Read More...
Sunday May 19, 2013
The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation has revealed their latest New Orleans tourism slogan: "Follow Your NOLA," and there's a new commercial and a snazzy interactive website to go along with it.
The slogan is catchy enough, I suppose, but what I like about this campaign, unlike a lot of the tourism campaigns that came before it, is that it comes with a new push to encourage tourists to leave the French Quarter and see some of the other amazing neighborhoods around the city.
Entirely too many people have come and gone from their New Orleans trip thinking that Bourbon Street was all that we had to offer, for better or for worse. I'm glad to see a push away from that. Sure, some of the other neighborhoods around the city are a little bit funkier, but they're still largely safe for tourists, and there's great stuff to be seen (and eaten) all over town.
If nothing else, visitors should at least check out The Garden District and Frenchmen Street, for great architecture and great music, respectively, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Head into the Tremé to visit the amazing Backstreet Cultural Museum and stop over at Willie Mae's Scotch House for the best fried chicken in the world. Head into the Bywater to hear Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan's or eat breakfast at Elizabeth's (praline bacon, y'all). Go out to Carrollton to catch ReBirth at the Maple Leaf and have one of the finest affordable meals of your life at Boucherie.
See the cemeteries and the Bestoff Sculpture Garden. Kayak on Bayou St. John and take a picnic out to the Fly. And please, please consider heading out to New Orleans East for Vietnamese food, because the pho out there can be a transcendental experience, I'm telling you.
What's your favorite thing to do outside of the French Quarter? Leave a comment and let us know!
Streetcar image © Jo Jakeman, Creative Commons via Flickr